By Yuka Tanimoto // This article was originally posted on huffingtonpost.com.
Top global leaders — especially, those who have been placing value creation at the forefront of business, society or the economy — undoubtedly have hectic days. Their mission includes continuously surprising us with outstanding ideas and innovations as well as achieving results.
Such leaders are able to do quite a few things to attain maximum results within a limited time frame: they can find quality inputs for their mind on an ongoing basis, are equipped with analytical abilities and the courage to take a risk in times of uncertainty, and have the strength to face up to adversity, express a clear vision, and guide the masses. They are required to have physical as well as mental vitality.
They are certainly superhuman — at least, they appear superhuman to a mediocre person like me.
The question I ask every time I meet such a superhuman person is “What makes you superhuman?”
Their answer has been unanimous; it is not exercise or training, still less a will to succeed, social status, fame, lust for power or money, but “meditation” that counts.
Among the leading Japanese figures who have included meditation in their life are Tempu Nakamura, a Japanese thinker and businessperson who has had a tremendous influence on Japanese management, as well as Masaru Ibuka, one of the founders of Sony, and Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic.
Meditation in Japan is strongly influenced by Buddhism. Buddhist meditation is called “shi-kan”: “Shi” means to stop and “kan” means to make an observation. It is regarded as the task of freeing ourselves from worldly thought by getting rid of mind disturbance, being withdrawn into contemplation, and allowing our mind to discern the essence.
Quite a few top Western global leaders incorporate meditation in their lives as well. The late Steve Jobs meditated every morning to prepare his mind and get inspired. Also, Arianna Huffington, who was listed among Time‘s 100 most influential people, has pointed out the significance of meditation in her book Thrive.
Meditation is not limited to individual practice — it has even been adopted as a part of training at Google, Intel and other leading companies.
Why is meditation being highlighted now?
Meditation reportedly has several positive effects such as enhancing concentration, improving memory or clarifying our thinking. In today’s complex society with excessive information, top leaders might feel that logical thinking is not always a valid means of finding solutions. What lies beyond logic is “intuition,” and meditation can be an effective means to bring forth the voice within.
You might think meditation is esoteric, but the meditative practices of Japan’s top business leaders show that it’s not that hard.
Their attitudes and practices are actually quite different. Konosuke Matsushita, for instance, meditated at least twice a day with gratitude to the fundamental force of the universe that enables every creation to exist. Tempu Nakamura regarded meditation as a method to attain a sense of “being free from all distracting thoughts and entering into a perfect selfless state of mind,” and he showed us the secret of facilitating meditation by staring at a black, round dot or candle flame in order to gain concentration. On the other hand, Masaru Ibuka took a more scientific approach, establishing a research institute on meditation to elucidate how we can employ our subconscious to achieve success. These examples clearly illustrate that meditation is not uniform.
No fixed time, no fixed place. No need to sit in a cross-legged position. You don’t even have to sit down; you can meditate as you want, at any time. The duration of the session is also flexible — as long as you feel comfortable. Say, three minutes, or just one minute is fine. Just control your breathing and concentrate on it, and you will feel your tension ease and mental disturbance disappear.
Some people regard meditation as an almighty power charge, but early practitioners don’t agree with this view. Rather, meditation is a means to detoxify the “mind” and “body” that everyone can easily make use of.
We all have talents and potentials, but tend to lose sight of them in the noise of conventional wisdom, rules, the environment, fixed ideas, social order or customs. The top global leaders turn to meditation to get rid of the noise, face their real self, and bring out their real strength.
Everyone wants to bring out their talent. Now the top leaders have proven that meditation is an effective means to realize this, so why not follow suit?